Thanks to a recent Vox article, I made last-minute plans to drive south to experience the eclipse in totality.
After dropping Suzi off at work early in the morning, I traveled back roads over the hills and through the countryside to McMinnville. Because the traffic was light, I continued further south to Independence.
Surrounded by a bunch of other excited eclipse watchers, we applauded as a scientist explained what we were about to see. A man yelled, “First contact!” as the moon edged against the face of the sun and we donned our solar safety glasses to take a look. Clearly, he could see first contact projected from his small, Newtonian telescope better than we could see just looking at the sun.
As the moon continued to slowly move across the sun, I went and looked through a small refractor telescope with a solar filter, then looked closer at the small telescope projecting the sun’s imaged onto a screen.1 We made pinholes with our hands to project crescents onto the cement and went over to some nearby trees to look at their shadows on the sidewalk.
About an hour after first contact, two minutes of totality happened! It was both darker and lighter than I expected. Lighter, because it felt like dusk where I was able to take a selfie and darker because we could see planets and stars. Amazing!
I didn’t try to take any artistic pictures having only a smartphone and a point and shoot. I’m sure the internet is filled with many awesome shots and videos. I’m looking forward to finding them.
After totality, many started to leave even though Portland band Idle Poets started to play. That seemed like the right time to stick around. The show wasn’t over.
I saw a couple looking intently in the “wrong” direction and went over to “helpfully” tell them where the eclipse was still happening. Instead, they showed me that Venus was faintly visible if you knew where to look.
Another hour after totality and it was over.
Or maybe it’s just begun. I can see why some chase eclipses around the globe. I’m looking forward to seeing my next one.2
How was it for you?
Update: I started searching YouTube and found a video filmed where I was. It’s great to hear the crowd. Can I get an OMG?
Totality 2017 Solar Eclipse, Riverview Park, Independence Oregon
For some inexplicable reason, my small Newtonian telescope I used for the 2010 Venus transit remained in my attic. Time to get it out and explore the night sky again. ↩
Next time, I’ll know better what to bring: solar eclipse sunglasses, hat, regular sunglasses, sunscreen, sunscreen chapstick, camera with medium to long lens and photographic solar filter, telescope rigged to project the image or with a solar screen, lots to drink, folding chair, umbrella. I probably wouldn’t bring all the gadgets, but it’s nice to have the reminder list to be able to decide. ↩